Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok)

What Does the Mayor of Vilnius Think About His City’s Thousands of Jewish Graves?



O P I N I O N

by Julius Norwilla

Back in May, the story broke about an electrical station on an uninhabited hillside by a highway here in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, being made out of pilfered old Jewish gravestones. It quickly spread to the international press, including London’s Daily Mail. The city’s recently elected mayor, Remigijus Šimašius reacted with lightning speed, getting the city’s sign-making maestros to create and mount a handsome solid-metal smartly round-edged bilingual sign condemning the “example of Soviet barbarism” and promising the rapid removal of the stones to a place of dignity where they will form part of a memorial. A PR disaster was spun into a rapid reaction force’s PR triumph against discrimination that could only do our great city proud.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Double Games, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on What Does the Mayor of Vilnius Think About His City’s Thousands of Jewish Graves?

Asra Kadisha Faults Lithuanian Authorities for Forming “Heritage Commission” to Preserve Cemeteries While “Doing the Opposite on the Ground”



NEW YORK—Rabbi Lazar Stern, New York area chairman of the international religious Asra Kadisha organization that calls for preservation of threatened Jewish cemeteries, issued a statement today concerning the latest prima facie instance of desecration of the final resting place of dead Jewish citizens of Lithuania. This time the fracas concerns a Holocaust-era mass grave site in Šiauliai (Shavl), in northwestern Lithuania. Published in a number of media outlets, including Baltic News Service (BNS), News.lt, Gnome.es, the Asra Kadisha statement calls for an immediate halt to the ongoing excavations. These works rapidly resulted in lurid pictures of human remains and personal possessions (including shoes) with which these people were murdered, being splashed over a number of Lithuanian online publications, including 15min.ltEtaplius.lt; Skrastas.ltSnaujienos.lt. Asra Kadisha is Aramaic for “Holy Place” and refers here to the sanctity of human burial grounds.

UPDATE OF 16 JULY:

Protests lead to Rapid U-Turn by Authorities

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Asra Kadisha Faults Lithuanian Authorities for Forming “Heritage Commission” to Preserve Cemeteries While “Doing the Opposite on the Ground”

London Based “CPJCE” Rushes to Take Credit for Provincial Mass Grave Site Preservation; Fails to Mention Involvement in “Sale” of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery



O P I N I O N

LONDON—The same London-based European cemetery-preservation group that allegedly takes money (for supervision fees) for “supervising” cemetery “conversions” in Eastern Europe forbidden by other rabbinical authorities, today issued a triumphant press release (image below) about its “rescue” of a provincial mass grave site uncovered during routine roadworks in northern Lithuania, near Šiauliai (Yiddish Shavl). The group is the CPJCE (Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe), which was recently received by the prime minister of Lithuania upon its agreeing to a convention center in the middle of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery, with no reference to any of the local rabbis or to universal decency on the question of what is appropriate in an old cemetery.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on London Based “CPJCE” Rushes to Take Credit for Provincial Mass Grave Site Preservation; Fails to Mention Involvement in “Sale” of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery

Protocol of 26 August 2009 Meeting in Vilnius on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in today’s Šnipiškės)


 


D O C U M E N T S   /    V I L N A   J E W I S H   C E M E T E R Y   A T   P I R A M Ó N T

Related: The 2015 saga. Paper Trail. DH sectionOther descriptions of the same 2009 agreement. The U.S. ambassador’s dispatch mentioning the rabbis’ payment for supervising “beautification” of the grounds. Embassy’s dispatch on the secrecy of the document. What were they actually paid? What were the same rabbis promised in 2015?  In the past, the slightest digging in the area revealed human remains throughout.

The Question: Does the agreement (which a US State Department cable, published by Wikipedia, makes clear was supposed to remain secret) really permit a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of the old cemetery (and millions in subsequent development) where people will cheer, revel, drink in bars, use toilets and parking areas on top of and surrounded by tens of thousands of Jewish graves paid for by grieving Vilnius families over a period of more than five hundred years? Comment in 2015 by (inter alia) the chief rabbi of Lithuania, resident rabbinical Vilna Gaon scholar in Lithuania, a Christian leader, a Vilnius Holocaust survivor, Gaon of Vilna’s descendants in Israel at Tel Aviv’s Vilna Gaon Synagogue, and the Central Rabbinical Council of the United States and Canada.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Protocol of 26 August 2009 Meeting in Vilnius on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in today’s Šnipiškės)

Piramónt in Šnipiškės: But What was Solemnly Agreed Back in 2009?



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—After two apartment and business buildings started to go up a decade ago on the grounds of the old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt in the Šnipiškės (Shnípishok) district of this city, across the river from the city center, a damaging international conflict ensued between elements of the Lithuanian government on the one hand and Jewish groups around the world and a number of Western governments on the other.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Piramónt in Šnipiškės: But What was Solemnly Agreed Back in 2009?

Open Letter to Members of CPJCE in the UK: Do You Really Want a Convention Center in the Heart of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery?



O P I N I O N   /   O P E N   L E T T E R

Dear Esteemed Associates of the “Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe” enumerated on the CPJCE letterhead [more than one eminent personage on the list is deceased; their precious names might perhaps best not be invoked for the organization’s current adventures?]

S.B.E. Berger, Rabbi B.Z. Blum, L. Davis, Rabbi J.H. Dunner, Rabbi Z. Feldman, D. Frand, B.S.E. Freshwater, A.C. Ginsberg, Rabbi H. Gluck OBE, A. Goldman, S. Grosz,  M. Hershaft, D. Herzka, M.B. Krausz, J. Kruskal, J. Lobenstein MBE, Y. Marmorstein, Rabbi A. Pinter, Rabbi E. Schlesinger, Rabbi E. Shechter, J. Shik, M.E. Stern, S.B. Stern, Rabbi C. M. Wosner


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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Open Letter to Members of CPJCE in the UK: Do You Really Want a Convention Center in the Heart of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery?

Who Has Yet to Express a Public View on the Wisdom of Planting a Convention Center in the Middle of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius?



VILNIUS—Public opposition to the placing of a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery has come from an array of individuals and organizations, in Vilnius and internationally.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Who Has Yet to Express a Public View on the Wisdom of Planting a Convention Center in the Middle of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius?

But Will New Vilnius Mayor Remove City’s Shrines to Holocaust Perpetrators?



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—Vilnius’s new mayor, the honorable Remigijus Šimašius, continues to express profound respect for his city’s Jewish heritage of many centuries’ standing. His dapper style, originality and flamboyance have impressed many. But some raise questions about the choices he makes about which issues to address or ignore. Julius Norwilla’srecent comment contrasts the mayor’s “instant metal sign” marking gravestones found in the walls of an electric sub-station, marked as a symptom of Soviet barbarism, with his public silence — hopefully soon to be broken! — about plans to build a $25,000,000 convention and entertainment complex smack in the middle of the city’s oldest Jewish cemetery. Hopefully, the mayor will respond to the appeal to authorities from his constituent Professor Pinchos Fridberg, one of his city’s last living Vilnius-born Holocaust survivors (one of about three left from an interwar population of 60,000 Jews that stood ar around 80,000 just before the Holocaust), as well as to the other public appeals to date, that have come from faithful Jewish and Christian sources alike.

New Section on Mayor Šimašius and Jewish Issues over the Years

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , | Comments Off on But Will New Vilnius Mayor Remove City’s Shrines to Holocaust Perpetrators?

Absoliutus barbarizmas: senosios žydų Piramónto kapinės



O P I N I O N   /   C E M E T E R I E S   /   P I R A M Ó N T   (Š N I P I Š K Ė S)

Rūta (Reyzke) Bloshtein


Ruta Bloshtein

Rūta (Reyzke) Bloshtein

Šią savaitę mes, žydai, minėjome tragiškiausią mūsų tautos istorijos datą — Tiša b’Av (jidiš: Tišebov) — abiejų Jeruzalės Šventyklų sugriovimą. Gedulą ir netekties skausmą išreiškiame pasninkaudami. Sėdėdama ant grindų ir skaitydama Kinojs knygą (gedulingas elegijas), mąsčiau ir apie tradiciją šią dieną lankyti mūsų didžių išminčių kapus.

Vilniuje ši tradicija buvo puoselėjama lankant Piramont kapines, kuriose per penkis šimtmečius palaidoti šimtai tūkstančių mano protėvių — Vilniaus žydų, tarp jų iškilių rabinų ir išminčių, palikusių neišsemiamus išminties lobius mums, siekiantiems kilniai ir dorai eiti gyvenimo keliu. Per jų nuopelnus bus, duok Dieve, pagreitintas Trečiosios Šventyklos atstatymas.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilniaus senosios žydų (Piramonto) kapinės Šnipiškėse | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Absoliutus barbarizmas: senosios žydų Piramónto kapinės

Latest Bizarre Dissonance over Piramónt



O P I N I ON

VILNIUS—The battle over the preservation of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (now part of the Šnipiškės [Yiddish: Shnípishok] district) has taken some bizarre turns.

In an article that appeared today in English in The Lithuania Tribune, city architects and officials excited by the prospects for the new convention and congress center planned for the heart of the cemetery, announced further plans for its rapid development. Proposals include “a hall for 3,000 people which could be flexibly converted into smaller spaces.” One of the plans cited explains that the center “should not be a venue exclusively for conferences, it should also host concerts and theatre performances. There are ideas to build an annex with a universal ‘black box’ suitable for various events, including circus shows.” Needless to say, there is no mention of any cemetery there, let alone having to ask any rabbis permission for any of this.

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“Absolute Barbarism”: An Orthodox Jewish Resident of Vilnius Speaks Out on Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery



O P I N I O N     /     T H E   C E M E T E R Y   A T   P I R A M Ó N T

by Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein

Ruta Bloshtein

Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein

This week we Jews observed the saddest day in our people’s tradition — Tisha B’Av (Yiddish: Tíshebov), the annual fast day which commemorates the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history, primarily the destruction of both the first and second temples in Jerusalem. On this day of mourning and lamentation we fast. While sitting on the floor and reading the Book of Lamentations and the Kinoys (sacred poems of mourning), I thought about the Tíshebov tradition of visiting graves of our great sages and of departed family members.

In Vílne (Vilnius), this tradition was observed for ages by visiting the Piramónt cemetery, where throughout a period of more than five hundred years hundreds of thousands have been buried there — the Jews of Vílne, our ancestors among them — and so many illustrious rabbis and sages, who passed on the infinite treasures of their wisdom to us, to help us find the most honest and ethical way of life. It is, in our belief, on account of their merits that the rebuilding of the third temple will come sooner.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein | Tagged , , | Comments Off on “Absolute Barbarism”: An Orthodox Jewish Resident of Vilnius Speaks Out on Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery

Twelve Leading Heads of Yeshivas Call on Lithuania to Halt Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery Desecration



NEW YORK—Asra Kadisha, the international organization that protects Jewish cemeteries from desecration, today released a call signed by twelve leading róshey yeshíve (heads of yeshivas) in the United States concerning the old Vilna Jewish cemetery known to generations of Vilna Jews as Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės (Yiddish: Shnípishok) district of today’s Vilnius. The city is capital of Lithuania, an EU and NATO member state and a successful democracy with a growing economy.

READ THE TEXT

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Vilnius Professor of Architectural & Civil Engineering Speaks Out on Sports Palace at the Old Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Jewish Cemetery


 


O P I N I O N    /    C E M E T E R I E S    /     P I R A M Ó N T

by Josifas Parasonis

While serving as deputy chairman  of the Jewish Community of Lithuania in July and August of 2005 I participated in discussions at the Urban Development Department of the Vilnius City Municipality Administration regarding the construction of an apartment building near the Mindaugas Bridge. My own profession is civil engineering. Supported by representatives of the United States Senate, delegates of the American Jewish community demanded that the capital’s municipality halt the construction, as the site of the construction once used to be a Jewish cemetery.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Josifas Parasonis, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Comments Off on Vilnius Professor of Architectural & Civil Engineering Speaks Out on Sports Palace at the Old Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Jewish Cemetery

Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Felt Threatened with Deportation after Opposing Convention Center Project at Old Jewish Cemetery



Rabbi Chaim Burshtein

VILNIUS—Flying today from Vilnius airport on a routine commute to Israel, the chief rabbi of Lithuania, Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, who has held the post for over a decade, experienced what he felt was effectively “an attempt at deportation” during the routine passport control check for passengers traveling to non-Schengen countries. He was threatened by the official, who explained he would no longer be free to enter Lithuania, an EU and NATO member state. Rabbi Burshtein explained to the official, quoting the prophet Jeremiah, that he has always followed the Jewish law of obeying the laws of the state in which one lives.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chaim Burshtein, EU, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Felt Threatened with Deportation after Opposing Convention Center Project at Old Jewish Cemetery

A Tale of Two Tweets



BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Followers of the Jewish cemetery saga in Vilnius were shocked at the most recent “game playing” by a haredi splinter group allied with Admas Kodesh (“Holy Earth”) and the CPJCE (the London based “Committee for the Protection of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”) that was last April entertained by the prime minister of Lithuania and gave its blessing for a $25,000,000 convention center in the heart of the old Piramónt (Šnipiškes) Jewish cemetery that goes back to the fifteenth century, if not earlier. The group has been implicated by Wikileaks’ release of a 2009 U.S. ambassador’s cable explaining that their quiet permissions for digging and “beautification” comes with big price tags.

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Posted in "Admas Kodesh", Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on A Tale of Two Tweets

Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Felt Threatened with Deportation after Opposing Cemetery Desecration



Rabbi Chaim Burshtein Felt Threatened With Deportation After Opposing Project to Build a Convention Center in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius; Authorities Deny Claim

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MEDIA:  ALGEMEINER.COM,  DH,  FB,  JERUSALEM POST,  JP UPDATES,  JTA,  THE  TIMES OF ISRAEL, HEAD OF JEWISH COMMUNITY OF LITHUANIA

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Felt Threatened with Deportation after Opposing Cemetery Desecration


http://www.lzb.lt/en/head-of-ljc-faina-kukliansky-on-articles-in-foreign-press-about-chaim-burshtein/

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Comments Off on

Chairperson of Lithuanian Jewish Community: Statement on Chief Rabbi and Old Cemetery



VILNIUS—The chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, Faina Kukliansky, today released the following statement on the community’s website. It is reposted here in full in virtue of its references to the debate over plans for a $25,000,000 convention center project in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės) in Vilnius.


 

Head of LJC Faina Kukliansky on Articles in Foreign Press about Chaim Burshtein

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Faina Kukliansky, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Chairperson of Lithuanian Jewish Community: Statement on Chief Rabbi and Old Cemetery

Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Issues Statement Opposing Convention Center Project at Old Jewish Cemetery



O P I N I O N    /    D O C U M E N T S    /   C E M E T E R I E S    /   P I R A M Ó N T

VILNIUSThe office of Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, chief rabbi of Lithuania since 2004, today released to the media the following statement, adding to statements of opposition to the proposed convention center at Piramónt. It follows a contrary statement from the head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania published on its website.

From the Office of the Chief Rabbi of Lithuania

Vilnius, 26 Av 5775 / 11 August 2015


My dear fellow Jews in Lithuania,

A primary task of every Jewish community is to care about old and new Jewish cemeteries. The Vilnius cemetery in Šnipiškės (Shnipishok), long known as Piramont, was purchased by the Jewish community for the full price in 1487, and many thousands of the city’s Jewish citizens paid for their and their loved ones’ plots of burial ground. Among those buried there were many of the greatest of our nation: rabbis, dayanim, teachers, authors of books of rabbinical thought and Jewish learning. In virtue of their achievements, Vilna became the capital of the Jewish world for many generations.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chaim Burshtein, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Issues Statement Opposing Convention Center Project at Old Jewish Cemetery

Translation of the Summer 2015 Call by 12 Litvak Rabbis in the US on Vilnius Jewish Cemetery


 


The recent rabbinic declaration dated Av 5775 (16 July−15 August 2015) concerning the old Jewish cemetery in Vilnius was released in parallel Hebrew and English texts (and appeared this way  in the 30 July 2015 American edition of Hamodia; it was reported on in its 29 July online edition, and in a 30 July DH report). The document is prominently cited in a statement issued earlier today by the office of Lithuania’s chief rabbi.

The English text was in effect a short summary. The following is a draft translation of the original Hebrew text of the proclamation, the image of which follows below.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Comments Off on Translation of the Summer 2015 Call by 12 Litvak Rabbis in the US on Vilnius Jewish Cemetery